It was tough in the rough
QUESTION Why was the 1974 U.S. Open known as The Massacre at Winged Foot? THE Winged Foot Golf Club in Mamaroneck, New York, is home to two gigantic 18-hole golf courses of 7,200-plus yard (more than 1,000 yards longer than a standard course), designed by A. W. Tillinghast. They are two of the most difficult golf courses in the world.
The set-up of the West Course for the 1974 U.S. Open was the toughest ever seen in a major championship. It more than adhered to the U.S. Golf Association philosophy of narrow fairways, high rough, tough pin placements and firm, sloping, lightning-fast greens.
The players knew they were in for a hard time when the great Jack Nicklaus, who was in his prime, had a 25ft birdie putt above the hole in the first round. He ran it nearly 30ft by the cup and wound up with a three-putt bogey that set the tone for the week.
Asked about the finishing holes of the West Course, Nicklaus quipped: ‘The last 18 are very difficult.’
There were complaints about the conditions and accusations that the U.S. Golf Association was trying to embarrass players. Club chairman Sandy Tatum’s reply was: ‘We’re not trying to embarrass the best players in the world. We’re trying to identify them.’
The tournament was won by three-time U.S. Open winner Hale Irwin. To appreciate the degree of difficulty, Irwin was the last player to win a U.S. Open without breaking par in any of the four rounds. He finished seven over par. Other golfers were finishing with scores of 30 over par, hence the media dubbed it a ‘massacre’.
Irwin, a former defensive back for the University of Colorado football team, said later: ‘Part of my success that week came from my football background. I just put my nose to the grindstone and toughed it out a little bit more than the other players. I certainly didn’t play better.’
The U.S. Open, held at the same course in 2006, became known as the ‘Massacre At Winged Foot Mk II’. Again, there was some very high scoring and some memorable collapses in the final round.
Most notable were Phil Mickelson, who entered the final three holes with a two-shot lead but bogeyed the 16th and doublebogeyed the 18th, and Colin Montgomerie, who suffered the heartbreak of double-bogeying the final hole to allow Australia’s Geoff Ogilvy to win by a shot, finishing with a total of five over par.
A. McDonald, St Andrews, Fife. QUESTION During World War II, U.S. Forces went from island to island evicting the Japanese. Did British Forces liberate any of these islands? FOLLOWING t he Battle of Midway (June 1942), U.S. forces
Compiled by Charles Legge launched a counter-offensive strike known as ‘island-hopping’ to establish a line of overlapping island bases, as well as air control, with the eventual aim of attacking the Japanese mainland.
The idea was to neutralise heavily fortified Japanese positions by simply avoiding them and concentrating the limited Allied resources on strategically important islands that were not well defended, but were capable of supporting the drive into Japan.
A force led by Admiral Chester Nimitz, with a smaller land force and larger fleet, advanced north towards Japan, capturing the Gilbert and Marshall Islands and the Marianas, generally in the direction of the Bonin Islands.
A southern prong, led by General MacArthur with a larger land force, took the Solomons, New Guinea and the Bismarck Archipelago, advancing toward the Philippines.
While the U.S. was liberating British territories in the Pacific and extending its influence, it became a political and military imperative to restore a British presence in the region and to deploy British military assets directly against Japan. The British government was determined that its territories, such as Hong Kong, should be recaptured by British forces. Thus The British Pacific Fleet (BPF), a Commonwealth Naval force of British, Australian, Canadian and New Zealand ships, was formed in mid-1944.
The fleet was initially involved in Operation Meridian, air strikes in January 1945 against oil production at Palembang, Sumatra. The forces were only involved in the latter, but most bloody, stages of the island-hopping campaign. During March 1945, while s upporting t he i nvasion of Okinawa, the BPF had sole responsibility f or operations i n the Sakishima Islands. Its role was to suppress Japanese air activity at potential Kamikaze-staging airfields that would otherwise be a threat to U.S. navy vessels operating at Okinawa.
The carriers were subject to heavy and repeated kamikaze attacks, but because of their armoured flight decks, British aircraft carriers proved highly resistant — unlike their U.S. counterparts — and returned to action relatively quickly.
In the end, Hong Kong was not relieved by the British but surrendered following the atomic bomb.
Of course, the BPF was not the only British force stationed in the Pacific theatre. A great deal of credit should also go to the British 14th Army ( sometimes called ‘the forgotten army’) for the relief of Burma.
John Holland, Skegness, Lincs. QUESTION What became of Peter Marinello, once hailed as the next George Best, who joined Arsenal from Hibs for £100,000? FURTHER to the earlier answer, I was introduced to Peter Marinello by his cousin in 1970, and Peter had recently been transferred from Hibernian to Arsenal for the then record fee of £100,000.
Although he played for the ‘other team’ in North London (I was and still am a fervent Tottenham supporter), I found him to be an articulate, well-spoken, well-mannered lad with absolutely no ‘superstar’ traits, and we spent some good times chatting about football and life, meeting for a drink (or three).
I was playing cricket for the Old Boys of Christ’s College School in Finchley, North London ( alma mater to such luminaries as Harvey Goldsmith and Charles Saatchi), and i nvited Peter to present the prizes at the Old Boys’ summer fete.
Not only did he accept with great enthusiasm, but he also spent the whole afternoon delighting the spectators by joining in certain events, chatting to fans, signing autographs and contributing in no small way to a most successful day. ‘Appearance money’ was never discussed. In fact, Peter went home with far less money than when he arrived.
I was sad to hear of the downward spiral that he suffered, but I am so glad that he has managed to turn his life around and do wish him well for the future.
Stephen Langham, Wimborne St Giles, Dorset.
Assault course: Hale Irwin celebrates his 1974 U.S. Open win